Antwerp: Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh saved a penalty stroke in a thrilling shoot-out after saving some regulation time as the Indian men’s team beat Olympic champions Belgium 5-4 in the opening match of the two-legged FIH Pro Hockey League here on Saturday. Gave. ,
The Indian team was down 1-3 with only eight minutes into the match, but made it 3-3 to force a penalty shoot-out.
Sreejesh foiled an effort from Nicolas de Kerpel when the shoot-out ended 4-4 and Akashdeep Singh found the net to make it 5-4 for the Tokyo Games bronze medalists.
Sreejesh, as always, was brilliant under the bar, thwarting several attempts by the hosts throughout the match, but his two defenses in the final quarter proved crucial.
The first quarter ended in a goalless stalemate with Srihesh working brilliantly under the bar to make two saves.
it was India Joe had his first chance to open the scoring, but both short corners went haywire as the home goalkeeper foiled those attempts with his rock solid defence.
Akashdeep also fired a shot near the goalpost which he would have flicked inside the post any day.
However, early in the second quarter, India found the net when Abhishek’s shot hit the foot of the custodian and Shamsher Singh (18′) tapped the high ball into the net after coming off the post.
Belgium found the equalizer through Cédric Charlier (21′), who deflected a pass from Nicolas de Kerpel in quick time. It was Arthur van Doren, who pushed it from the left to Körpel.
Both the teams got penalty corners but it did not work.
The hosts broke the deadlock in the third quarter when Simon Gougnard (36′) slotted a fierce hit home after being fed by Florent van Aubel, who controlled the high ball well enough to push it towards his teammate.
Sreejesh saved India from further notoriety when he made two heroic saves, sweeping the ball away from his stick, fully extending his right side.
De Kerpel, however, eventually broke the defense with a hard hit from the penalty corner to level it 3-1.
India were given life in the match when Manpreet Singh won a penalty which was converted by Harmanpreet and two minutes later from a hooter, Jarmanpreet Singh equalized from a short corner.
India opted for a change as Jugraj let him slip behind his back to Jarmanpreet after a stroke and the latter blew him into the net.